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Jose Rizal Tenth Anniversary Screening: A Look Back

It was the 20th of December and sad to say, instead of going with the throngs and throngs of people to buy Christmas gifts for our individual families, both of us (Vit and Jed) were going to faraway Antipolo to go to the Tenth Anniversary Screening of Jose Rizal. Both of us were giddy at best as this was a first for us and for our blog. This is a look back on what transpired that Saturday afternoon.

The road we took was Ortigas Extension and was it heavy with traffic. It was almost 2PM and we were still in the Pasig Area. Luckily for us though, traffic soon became less and less heavy and we felt that provincial feeling as buildings turned into trees into mountains (by the way, thanks to the Manong Jeepney driver who showed us the way to MDAFI. As soon as we arrived in MDAFI, we felt that homey feeling. Was this a school or a house? We were surprised on how small it was yet we were amazed on how close the students and faculty were to each other. We soon met up with the MDAFI alumni and RJ Torres of K2IA (who was the one who invited us in the first place so thanks as well!). Fortunately for us, even though we were late, the film event did not start on time. We even had time to buy chocolate crinkles outside the subdivision MDAFI was in. As soon as we came back from that crinkles experience, we met up with our newfound friend, Mighty of Penstalker.

Soon, the filming was about to start and Marilou Diaz-Abaya spoke about the hardships of making Rizal and how the fledging Philippine Cinema from ten years back has now turned into nothing. Each of the cast members spoke as well like Jaime Fabregas and of course, Cesar Montano who starred as Rizal himself. After filming (which was around three hours), we had a simple dinner and then the 8 independent films were shown and finally an FGD (Focused Group Discussion) was done to digest the on goings the whole day.

The whole event took around 9-10 hours to cap off and was it tiring yet very rewarding. What did we learn? Well first, we learned and realized how sad the state of the local film industry has become. Ten years ago, 200-300 films were being put out. Ten years after, we are even lucky to reach a tenth of that amount a year. Second, we also saw how Filipinos can truly match up with Hollywood and international films. Jose Rizal was still astounding to say the least. You won't believe this is a ten year old film. It even beats out the best that came out locally this year and this is not only the cinematography and the writing but the whole shebang like effects and props. Filipinos can truly break the mediocrity box if they try hard and be willing to shell out something. Jose Rizal should be a testament to what local films can become and should become. Unfortunately, instead of going forward we took a lot of steps back. Finally, we learned to hope. Looking at the 8 indie films was something else. You won't believe how the quality and the stories were shown even with the constraints they had on time, effects and money. As Direk Marilou said to us, the key to movies is not the equipment or the budget but to who is doing the film. Truly a great director and a great mentor.

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